Lx I The sounds of German
Lecture 6 – Week 8
I. Connected speech – coarticulation and assimilation
II. Phonological rules revisited
I. Co-articulation and
assimilation
In connected fluent speech, the articulators take
“short-cuts”
-By leaving phonemes out altogether (e.g. und
ein > /ʊn/ - consonant /t/ deleted (deletion,
Tilgung; also called elision)
- By reducing phonemes to ones which take less
articulatory effort, such as more central vowels
(e.g. ein > /ən/) (reduction)
I. Co-articulation and
assimilation
or ….
by articulating sounds in a way which makes the
transition to/ from another sound easier =
assimilation
e.g. Lippen [lɪpm] (n assimilates to the previous p)
“Connected speech”
i.e not words pronounced in isolation, but in
context
So we will often talk about changes to
pronunciation at the boundaries …
•…. between words, or
•…. between morphemes, e.g. un+gern, halt+bar,
frag+st (where + indicates a morpheme
boundary)
• remember a morpheme is the smallest unit of language
that can carry meaning (even if it is just grammatical
meaning.
Phonetics or phonology?
•There are two ways of looking at processes like
these.
•We view them as being at the level of phonetic
detail, and so transcribe them in square
brackets, like [ ]
•But we might argue that, since (in many cases,
at least) they can be described by regular
phonological rules, we are still dealing with
phonology, and so might want to transcribe in
between slashes / /
(By the way …)
• in between slashes
• this is a good example of assimilation in
English speech:
•In between > [ɪmbətwi:n]
Phonetics or phonology?
•For our purposes, we will consider that coarticulatory effects occur at the level of
phonetics.
•This particularly makes sense when some of the
processes result in sounds which we have not
met as phonemes in German in their own right,
as in [ɱ] (=labiodental nasal)
• Still, we will try and describe some of these
processes using phonological rules.
NB in the exam …
•You will be asked to provide a phonemic
transcription, i.e. at the level of phonology, using
phonemes, transcribed between / /
• You’ll also be asked to comment on “how the
phonology might be different if the speakers
were speaking rapidly / conversationally” – here
you will need to comment on the level of
phonetic detail
I. Co-articulation and
assimilation
Assimiliation …
•of place
•of manner
•of voicing
Assimilation
of place in Bonn > /ɪmbɔn/ (alveolar to
labial)
of manner obvious > /ɔvv/ …(labial
stop to fricative)
of voicing hat sie > /hatsi:/ (or
/z/)
o
Assimilation ….
•partial: e.g. Altbau > /lpb/ (assimilation of
place but not of voice)
•Becomes more similar to the sound with
which is assimilates
•Total: e.g. mit Partykleid > /mɪpp/
•Becomes identical to the sound to which it
assimilates
Assimilation ….
• can occur in either direction:
• either in anticipation of a following
sound: mit Partykleid > /mɪpp/ = anticipatory
(regressive effect)
• or a “hangover” after another sound has
already been pronounced: Leben /le:bm/
= perseverative (progressive effect)
1. Common assimilation of
place in German
• 1. anticipatory (regressive)
• /t/ > /p/ before labial stops /p,b,m/
• geht mit > /ge:pmɪt/
• mit Papa > / mɪppapɑ/
• mit Mama > /mipmamɑ/
Common assimilation of place
in German
• 1. anticipatory (regressive)
• /t/ > /k/ before oral velar stops /k, g/
• hat kein > hakkaɪn/ (total)
• isst gern > / ɪskgɛɐn/ (partial)
Common assimilation of place
in German
• 1. anticipatory (regressive)
• /n/ > /m/ before nasal stops /p, b, m/
• in Mai > /ɪmmaɪ/ (total)
• mein Peter > /maɪmpe:tɐ/ > (partial)
• kann bieten > /kambi:tən/ (partial)
Common assimilation of place
in German
• 1. anticipatory (regressive)
• /n/ > /m/ before nasal stops /p, b, m/
• in Mai > /ɪmmaɪ/ (total)
• mein Peter > /maɪmpe:tɐ/ > (partial)
• kann bieten > /kambi:tən/ (partial)
•Note case distinctions can disappear: (-en, -em)
• meinen Bruder > /maɪnəm bru:dɐ/
Common assimilation of place
in German
• 1. anticipatory (regressive)
• /n/ > /ŋ/ before oral velar stops /k, g/
• in kein > ɪŋkaɪn/
• in gut > / ɪŋgu:t/
Common assimilation of place
in German
• 2. perseverative (progressive)
• /n/ > / ŋ/ after /k,g/
• sagen, fragen, liegende, Haken /
• (with deletion of schwa)
• /gŋ/
Common assimilation of place
in German
• 2. perseverative (progressive)
• and /n/ > /m/ after /p, b/, (often where a /ə/ has
been elided:
• Leben > /le:bm/
Wappen > /vapm/
Common assimilation of place
in German
• all of the above are normal in
conversation
• also very possible in formal style
Common assimilation of place
in German
• In relaxed conversational style …:
• regressive (anticipatory) assimilation
/n/ and /m/ > [ɱ] (=labiodental nasal) before /f,v/
in Wien > [ ɪ ɱvi:n]
ein Freund > [əɱfroɪnt]
Im Verein am schönsten > [ɪɱv …]
• NB Both within words and across word
boundaries
Common assimilation of place
in German
• In relaxed conversational style …:
• regressive (anticipatory) assimilation
/s/ > / ∫/ before / ∫/ or /Ʒ/
Das Spiel > /da ∫ ∫pi:l/
Des Journalisten > /dɛ∫Ʒ …/
NB not before /j/ as in English this year /…∫j…/
2. Common assimilation of
manner in German
• Before or after nasals, oral stops may
become assimilated to the homorganic nasal
• progressive: within words and across word
boundaries:
• zum Beispiel
/mb/ > /mm/
• Bundestag
/nd/ > /nn/
• ungern
/ŋg/ > /ŋŋ/
Common assimilation of
manner in German
• Before or after nasals, oral stops may
become assimilated to the homorganic nasal
• regressive: within words only
• especially where loss of ə produces a
syllabic nasal in unstressed syllables
• haben >[hɑ:bm] > [hɑ:mm] (b>m)
• Magnet: /magne:t/ > [maŋne:t] (g>ŋ)
Common assimilation of
manner in German
what about e.g.s like fanden (Hall, p. 143)
fanden > /fandn/ > /fann/ ?
Hall describes these as assimilations too, but if it
were just that, we would end up with /fannn/
• so there is something else going on here too –
the reduction of geminates (double consonants) to
singles … more later
Common assimilation of
manner in German
• These assimilations of manner are likely in
conversation or in rapid speech, but are less
likely in formal speech
3. Voicing and devoicing
Devoicing:
voiceless stop
Voiceless fricative
followed by voiced stop
or /z/
(i.e. b, d, g, z)
Devoicing of second element is likely in
conversation:
Habsburg [hapsbʊɐk] (little o beneath indicates
o
“devoiced”)
3. Voicing and devoicing
Devoicing:
Both within words, and at word boundaries
or morpheme boundaries
Habsburg [hapsbʊɐk] (little o beneath indicates
o
“devoiced”)
Das Symbol /sz/ > [ss]
3. Voicing and devoicing
Devoicing:
After voiceless fricatives, the voiced
phonemes /j, v, l, r/ can also become
(partially devoiced)
auf Jahr und Tag […fj…]
o
Das Wasser [dasvasɐ]
o
Das Recht [dasrɛçt]
o
Das Licht [daslɪçt]
o
3. Voicing and devoicing
Vowels can also become devoiced:
e.g between voiceless stops, in both
German and English
Article
Artikel
3. Voicing …
Voicing
In unstressed syllables, voiceless
fricatives may become voiced:
Hat er
/t/ > [d]
Mach ich
/x/ > [γ]
Darf ich /f/ > [v]
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
In German it affects:
/ə/
/t/
Geminate (double) consonants
Loss of nasals /ə/ before
nasals in unstressed syllables
(e.g. –en)
In very careful speech, we might hear: /ən/,
- but usually /ə/ is deleted, and we hear syllabic
/n/ in essen, hoffen, reisen ….
Cf. English sudden, happen
Loss of nasals /ə/ before
nasals in unstressed syllables
(e.g. –en)
In very careful speech, we might hear: /ən/,
- but usually /ə/ is deleted, and we hear syllabic
/n/ in essen, hoffen, reisen ….
• Word-finally, as in the above examples
•Or preceding a consonant: trinkende, lebende …
Remember the syllabic [n] may
then undergo assimilation …
Always: assimilation of syllabic n to ŋ
- After a velar stop (/k,g/): fragen, sagen,
Haken:
-[gŋ], [kŋ]
• Frequent in normal speech: assimilation
of syllabic n to m
- After a bilabial stop /m, p/ : leben, neben,
Mappen [bm], [pm]
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Elision of final /ə/
• at end of 1st person singular : ich hab’, ich
mach’ …. (/hap, max/)
•(not possible after nasals: *zeichn’ ich)
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Elision of final /ə/
• at end of 1st person singular : ich hab’, ich
mach’ …. (/hap, max/)
•(not possible after nasals: *zeichn’ ich)
• also 1st person preterite tense followed by
subject: wollt’ ich (not ich wollt’)
• (not possible where the ending is –ete)
Eg. *arbeitet’ ich
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
• NB these deletions do not occur with the
identical 3rd person preterite endings:
•wollte er, sagte er
• *wollt’ er, *sagt’ er
• Clearly this type of deletion is not just an
effect of rapid speech, there is a
phonological rule that interacts with the
morphology of the language
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Deletion of /t/
1. after /n/ or /l/ and before /s/
• der Tanz: /tants/ > /tans/
• ganz: /gants/ > /gans/ (becomes a
homonym with Gans)
• du hältst: /hɛltst/ > /hɛlst/
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Deletion of /t/
2. In syllable clusters of the pattern
fricative – t – l (e.g. /stl, ftl, çtl, xtl/)
• geistlich > /sl/
• schriftlich > /fl/
• beachtlich > /xl/
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Deletion of /t/
3. In clusters with sibilants (/s, ∫ /)
loszulassen = /sts/ > /ss/
• du hast zu viel = /stts/ > /sts/
• jetzt zu … = /tstts/ > /tss/
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
All such deletions of /t/ are a mark of
conversational style
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
All such deletions of /t/ are a mark of
conversational style
(cf. also deletion of /t/ in nicht in north
German pronunciations)
Nicht /nɪçt/ > /nɪç/
(Also jetzt, sonst … cf. “weak forms” below)
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Reduction of double consonants to singles
Recall from earlier:
fanden > /fandn/ > /fannn/ > /fann/
(a case of total assimilation of manner (/d/ >
/n/), resulting in triple consonant, reduced to
two)
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
More commonly, 2 consonants reduced to
one by deletion of one:
nennen: /nɛnn/ > /nɛn/
Or, again via assimilation first:
kommen > /kɔmm/ > /kɔm/
singen > /zɪŋŋ/ > / zɪŋ/
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
Can also be in middle of a word:
annehmen > /ane:mm/
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
NB if the double consonants …
•ARE NOT at the end of a word and
• IF THEY IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW the word
stress, then reduction to a single consonant
is not possible:
/‘hat kaɪn/ > /hakkaɪn/ Stress on hat
(marked by ‘), so no reduction of /kk/
possible
(contrast /hat ‘kaɪn/ > /ha’kaɪn/
II. Elision (deletion, Tilgung)
• Vocalic r, /ɐ/, is often elided in conversation after long ɑ:,
e.g Fahrt
/fɑ:ɐt /> /fɑ:t
III. More reductions: vowels
Consider den /de:n/
1. [den] (shortened vowel)
2. [dɛn] (tense vowel replaced by lax vowel)
3. [dən] (vowel reduced to schwa)
4. [dn] (vowel deleted, syllabic n)
III. Vowel reductions
1. (shortening long vowel)
frequent with all unstressed long vowels,
e.g. Gabi
/gɑ:bi:/ > /gɑ:bi/
Universum
/u:ni:vɛɐsʊm/ > /u:nivɛɐzʊm/
III. Vowel reductions
The remaining steps in vowel reduction …
….
2. [dɛn] (tense vowel replaced by lax vowel)
3. [dən] (vowel reduced to schwa)
4. [dn] (vowel deleted, syllabic n)
… most common in high-frequency function
words like articles
IV. “weak forms”
See Hall, p.150-154 for a list of weak forms
assimilation and or reduction in highfrequency words, esp. :
•articles: der, die, den, einem, einen …
•Pronouns: du, er, ihm, ihrem ….
•auxiliary verbs: bist, ist, …
•Prepositions: zu, für, nach …
•Conjunctions: und, oder …
•some adverbs: schon, nur, mehr, sonst
Further reductions
We’ve already noted that a glottal stop ʔ can
be omitted before unstressed vowels, and
may even be omitted before some stressed
ones in relaxed conversation:
In Essen
/ʔɪn ʔɛsən/ most formal
/ɪn ʔɛsn/
/ɪn ɛsn/ least formal
Exercise:
Try applying the stages of reduction and
assimilation to the words listed here and
see what weak forms emerge – then check
with the list in Hall, p.150ff.
•articles: der, die, den, einem, einen …
•Pronouns: du, er, ihm, ihrem ….
•auxiliary verbs: bist, ist, …
•Prepositions: zu, für, nach …
•Conjunctions: und, oder …
•some adverbs: schon, nur, mehr, sonst
More on phonological rules
Remember we have seen rules like this:
A fricative or stop becomes voiceless when
it is followed by a syllable boundary
[+obstruent]  [ - stimmhaft] / __ ] σ
i.e. Auslautverhärtung
More on phonological rules
We can also use rules to describe some of
processes we have been talking about today …
Can you write a simple rule to express this type
of assimilation:
in Bonn > /ɪmbɔn/
And this deletion?
kommen > /kɔmm/ > /kɔm/
NB use ]* and ]σ for “word boundary” and
“syllable boundary”
More on phonological rules
in Bonn > /ɪmbɔn/
/n/ > /m/ / _____ ] σ /b/ /m/ /p/
Or
[+nasal
> [+labial] / _____ ] σ [+labial]
+ koronal]
NB this also allows for assimilation of /n/ to
/m/ before any labial stop.
More on phonological rules
kommen > /kɔmm/ > /kɔm/
1. /ə/ > 0 / _n]* where unstressed
2. /n/ > /m/ / m_ ]*
(or [+nas, +kor] > [+lab.] / [+nas, +lab] ___ ]*)
And finally …
3. /m/ > 0 /___m ]*
(where ]* indicates a word boundary)
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